Pollution characteristics and health risk assessment of volatile organic compounds emitted from different plastic solid waste recycling workshops

Zhigui He, Guiying Li, Jiangyao Chen, Yong Huang, Taicheng An, Chaosheng Zhang
Environment International 2015, 77: 85-94
The pollution profiles of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted from different recycling workshops processing different types of plastic solid waste (PSW) and their health risks were investigated. A total of 64 VOCs including alkanes, alkenes, monoaromatics, oxygenated VOCs (OVOCs), chlorinated VOCs (ClVOCs) and acrylonitrile during the melting extrusion procedure were identified and quantified. The highest concentration of total VOCs (TVOC) occurred in the poly(acrylonitrile-butadiene styrene) (ABS) recycling workshop, followed by the polystyrene (PS), polypropylene (PP), polyamide (PA), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyethylene (PE) and polycarbonate (PC) workshops. Monoaromatics were found as the major component emitted from the ABS and PS recycling workshops, while alkanes were mainly emitted from the PE and PP recycling processes, and OVOCs from the PVC and PA recycling workshops. According to the occupational exposure limits' (OEL) assessment, the workers suffered acute and chronic health risks in the ABS and PS recycling workshops. Meanwhile, it was found that most VOCs in the indoor microenvironments were originated from the melting extrusion process, while the highest TVOC concentration was observed in the PS rather than in the ABS recycling workshop. Non-cancer hazard indices (HIs) of all individual VOCs were <1.0, whereas the total HI in the PS recycling workshop was 1.9, posing an adverse chronic health threat. Lifetime cancer risk assessment suggested that the residents also suffered from definite cancer risk in the PS, PA, ABS and PVC recycling workshops.

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